Migrante condemns crackdown on migrants, refugees in Malaysia

Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and families Migrante International fully supports the Filipino community and migrant communities of other nationalities in Malaysia in their fight against intensified crackdowns on undocumented migrant workers.

The crackdown is a result of the Malaysian government’s Illegal Immigrant Comprehensive Settlement Programme (6P Programme, “6P”) which is in its final phase of implementation. Arrests, illegal detention and raids of undocumented migrants are being conducted by the Malaysian government in spite and despite of the extension of the deadline for the 6P declared by Secretary-General of Home Ministry Tan Sri Mahmood Adam.

Malaysia is one of the most common destinations of trafficked Filipino workers, mostly women, according to Migrante International. It is also one of the most common “transit points” of trafficked Filipinos on their way to other parts of Asia.

According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, they have received reports and urgent alerts from partner migrant organization in Malaysia, Tenaganita, that on February 11 a raid was conducted in Kuala Lumpur wherein between 100 to 200 migrants and refugees were arrested. Some were brought to detention cells while the others’ whereabouts are yet unknown.

“We are still gathering information if Filipinos are involved. We call on the Philippine government to urgently look into this matter,” Martinez said.

Martinez said that they are gravely concerned because of the history and nature of crackdowns and raids in Malaysia. In previous immigration crackdowns in 2005 and 2008, there was high use of violence against migrants. Those arrested were not granted access to phone calls, embassies and counsels.

“We are very concerned for the well-being of Filipino migrants and migrants of other nationalities in Malaysia right now. We also call on the Malaysian government to observe human rights of all migrants, documented or undocumented.”

Migrante International supports the international campaign for the de-criminalization of undocumented migrants. It is also pushing host countries to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The Convention does not discriminate against undocumented or irregular migrant workers.

He said, “Undocumented migrants, who inevitably provide the solution to labor shortages or the clamor for cheap labor in host countries, are marginalized and exploited. They are less able to assert their claims and are more vulnerable to abuses because of their ‘illegitimacy’.”

“Being undocumented is never reason to be stripped of one’s fundamental human rights,” Martinez said.

According to records of Migrante International, the number of undocumented Filipino workers deployed in different countries has reached approximately 900,000 in 2007. “This number has continued to increase over the years, especially in light of continued unemployment and landlessness here in the Philippines. The growing number of undocumented OFWs worldwide is indicative of the ongoing crisis of forced migration and systemic economic crisis in the country.”###